For years I cringed when someone told me to “Offer it up.” I mean afterall, I was complaining about something that I had every right to be upset about, right? Saying ‘offer it up’ was, in my opinion, the other persons way of getting you to stop complaining while at the same time coming off as ‘holier than thou’. Basically it was the most annoying thing you could ever do.
While suffering still isn’t easy, my outlook on it has changed drastically. I had a great talk with my missionary brother, Erik Martin, one day after I spilled spaghetti sauce on my new shoes after emptying a trash can and the bag had a hole in it and….I’m getting fired up just thinking about it. Erik reminded me of ‘redemptive suffering’ and quoted this verse: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24).
How cool is that? We can unite our sufferings to Christ’s suffering on the cross. Through ‘offering up’ our sufferings, God can use them to work miracles and save souls. You can ‘offer up’ something for a special intention or just give it to God to use however He wills. For example, when something displeasing happens to you, you can (through the grace of God) offer it up and say “Lord, I offer this suffering for the conversion of my friend ______.” You can also offer things up for the soul of someone you know who has passed away, or any other petition close to your heart. You might just say “Lord, use this suffering how you wish.” It is NOT because Christ’s suffering on the cross wasn’t sufficient. His sacrifice and the graces flowing from it are so much more than I could describe, and in them we are invited to take part and offer ourselves and our lives. We are simply working with God, and giving him our efforts, works, joys, pains, and sufferings to build up the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:9 – “For we are God’s co workers…”
Suffering apart from God has no merit. We must unite our sufferings to the cross and trust that He’ll use them for His greater glory. Didn’t you ever wonder why really holy people always talk about the joy in suffering? There is an indescribable joy in allowing our suffering to be put to use! Why waste it?
Got any cool stories or more questions?